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Sports Journee

LSU-Alabama loser still will have playoff hopes

LSU-Alabama may be a critical game in the SEC title race, but it by no means will end the playoff hopes of the loser — regardless of whom that is.

According to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, LSU would have a 42% chance to reach the playoff with a loss in Tuscaloosa, while Alabama’s chances would fall to 41% with a defeat. Should each win out and finish the regular season at 11-1, LSU and Alabama would have a 60% and 64% chance to reach the playoff, respectively.

We can play this out to see why.

Let’s presume that Alabama beats the Tigers on Saturday and then goes on to win the SEC championship. LSU takes care of business in its final three games and finishes 11-1. And then Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Oregon all win out. Can a non-champion 11-1 LSU hold off not one but two one-loss Power 5 champs for the last spot?

The Allstate Playoff Predictor says: Yes.

In that instance, LSU would be the fourth-most likely team to reach the playoff (behind Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson) at 44%. That indicates that LSU would be the favorite to grab the last spot, but there would be quite a bit of uncertainty nonetheless.

Despite having one fewer win than Oklahoma or Oregon, LSU would actually have a better strength of record (SOR) than either. The Tigers would average an SOR rank of 3.4, while the Ducks would be at 4.6 and Oklahoma would be even worse. LSU is also better than both those teams, according to FPI. It would lack the conference championship, but with both a best and more deserving case in its back pocket, the model thinks the committee would favor LSU.

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